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confidence in the role of supplements as support is growing

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confidence in the role of supplements as support is growing

April, sweet sleep. He thus recites an old proverb, which however does not seem to reflect reality. According to the latest revelations from the AIMS (Italian Association of Sleep Medicine), in our country, approximately 13.4 million people suffer from sleep-related disorders.1 Stress, hectic life, worries, incorrect diet: the main reasons that lead Italians not to rest well. Faced with this scenario, which is not very comforting for the resulting quality of life, our compatriots place growing trust in food supplements, as highlighted by the latest consumption data. According to a processing by Integratori & Salute on New Line data referring to the Pharmacy channel, in the last 10 years, in our country, sales in volume of food supplements linked to mental well-being and sleep-related problems have increased by 155%2. In particular, in 2023, 9.6 million packs of supplements for sleep disorders and mental well-being were sold in Italy (vs. 3.8 million packs in 2013), for a value of 146 million euros . This increase in demand has also been amplified by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused a significant increase in sleep problems and anxiety among the population.

INSIGHTS

“The growing awareness of the importance of adequate rest for general health, also corroborated by the recommendations of American cardiologists who consider the quality of sleep a crucial element for cardiovascular prevention, can help to understand the increase in demand for supplements to promote sleep”, comments Dr. Franca Marangoni, Research Manager of the ‘Nutrition Foundation of Italy’ (NFI). “Today, people are on average more attentive to prevention and start taking care of their well-being earlier than in the past. In this scenario, supplementation, which helps the body maintain a physiological state of health, can also have an interesting role.”

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Food supplements: a pillar of psychophysical well-being for 2 out of 3 Italians

A recent study by the Future Concept Lab also highlights how 65% of Italians consider supplements as an important support for maintaining psychophysical well-being1. In particular, the survey revealed that 1 in 5 Italians (20%) consider the use of supplements extremely useful to combat sleep-related disorders. Supplements that aim to improve sleep quality have been tried by around 22% of Italians at least once in their lives, with a slightly higher percentage (27%) among those over 55. It is interesting to note that more than half of the Italian population (56%) uses supplements only for the necessary period of time, therefore demonstrating a responsible and aware attitude.

From the effectiveness of melatonin to new prospects with multivitamins and multi-minerals

Among the products traditionally known for their effectiveness in the treatment of sleep disorders, melatonin certainly occupies an important role. This substance, according to the EFSA (European Agency for Food Safety) has the ability to reduce the effects of jet lag and, taken half an hour before going to bed, to shorten the time needed to fall asleep. At the same time, on the supplementation front, new perspectives are emerging regarding the use of multivitamins and multi-minerals, supported by scientific evidence that confirms their benefits on mental health. “The results of the most recent meta-analyses, states Dr. Marangoni, confirm the well-known properties of vitamins and minerals that have recognized health claims, but also add new information of interest. For example, those concerning the potential effects of multivitamin and multi-mineral products, on the cellular mechanisms underlying the functioning of the nervous system and psychological function. For example, vitamin E, which contributes to the protection of cells from oxidative stress, and Omega 3 which have anti-inflammatory properties, are particularly interesting since the mechanisms underlying inflammation and oxidation are the basis of various disorders, including those involving the psychological and mental sphere.”

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Botanicals: the effects of ginkgo biloba and resveratrol in neuroprotection

Recent research is increasingly focusing on the specific compounds of plants, through detailed studies to better understand their effects and their possible therapeutic applications, also linked to the sphere of mental and cognitive well-being. These are plant-based supplements, known as “botanicals”: products composed of plant extracts or preparations, which can include a variety of components, including vitamins, mineral salts and fibre. “As regards the cognitive sphere, numerous studies have been conducted on botanicals and specific components that also show antioxidant properties, as in the case of ginkgo biloba. Further research has highlighted the favorable effects of plant extracts rich in polyphenols, such as resveratrol present in grapes and therefore in red wine, but also in other red-purple colored vegetables, which has been studied in neurological protection, especially in elderly populations ”, concludes Dr. Marangoni.

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